Archive for the ‘Saturday Night Live’ Category

From Trump to Madoff: This Week’s TV Blogs

November 13, 2015
This week's TV blogs -- Trump, Donny Deutsch, TV court shows, O'Reilly vs. Will and Bernie Madoff.

This week’s TV blogs — Trump, Donny Deutsch, TV court shows, O’Reilly vs. Will and Bernie Madoff.

NEW YORK, Nov. 13, 2015 — The week began with Donald Trump on “Saturday Night Live” and ended with TV’s dueling Madoffs — Robert De Niro and Richard Dreyfuss.

In between, this week’s MediaPost TV blogs included a look at Bill O’Reilly’s bullying brawl with George Will, another look at adman Donny Deutsch’s new sitcom on USA Network and a blog post about trial lawyers and their obsession with TV court shows (an idea that came to me while I was dozing off on jury duty in Manhattan this week).

Read all five of my MediaPost TV blogs from this past week with these links:

Monday, Nov. 9: Trump On ‘SNL’: As He Might Say, It Was A Total Disaster

Tuesday, Nov. 10: Random Thoughts You Might Have While Watching ‘Donny!’

Wednesday, Nov. 11: Trial Lawyers Obsessed With Influence Of TV Court Shows On Jurors

Thursday, Nov. 12: Bullied By O’Reilly, George Will Has The Last Word (So Far)

Friday, Nov. 13: Madoff Face-Off: De Niro, Dreyfuss Are TV’s Dueling Bernies

— Adam Buckman

Contact Adam Buckman: adambuckman14@gmail.com

Petitions Pack No Punch: This Week’s TV Blogs

November 6, 2015
This week's TV blog topics: Raven-Symone, Donald Trump, "Star Trek," "Wheel of Fortune," "Angie Tribeca." Read them all below.

This week’s TV blog topics: Raven-Symone, Donald Trump, “Star Trek,” “Wheel of Fortune,” “Angie Tribeca.” Read them all below.

NEW YORK, Nov. 6, 2015 — Protest petitions took center stage this week as Donald Trump prepared to guest-host “Saturday Night Live” this weekend. Petitioners sought to have his invitation rescinded but by midday Friday, this effort was unsuccessful.

Elsewhere in TV Land, CBS announced a new “Star Trek” series, “Wheel of Fortune” kept on spinning and TBS attempted to announce a launch plan for a new comedy series — “Angie Tribeca” — but issued a press release that was incomprehensible.

Behold: This week’s MediaPost TV blogs — follow the links, right here:

Monday, Nov. 2: Web Site Provides Protest Platform To Petty Petitioners

Tuesday, Nov. 3: Latino Protests Can’t Stop Trump On ‘SNL’

Wednesday, Nov. 4: With ‘Star Trek’ Gamble, CBS Explores Bold New Paywall Plan

Thursday, Nov. 5: TV’s Happy Place: Never-Ending ‘Wheel’ Goes ‘Round And ‘Round

Friday, Nov. 6: Advice To Publicists: Avoid Comedic Press Releases

— Adam Buckman

Contact Adam Buckman: adambuckman14@gmail.com

‘Fargo’ Is Year’s Best Show: This Week’s TV Blogs

October 16, 2015
From 'Fargo' to Trump: Presenting this week's MediaPost TV blogs -- links below.

From ‘Fargo’ to Trump: Presenting this week’s MediaPost TV blogs — links below.

NEW YORK, Oct. 16, 2015 — I’m usually much too jaded to declare a TV show to be “the best” of anything, but the new “Fargo” on FX was an exception this week — the best show I’ve seen so far this year. I reviewed the premiere on Monday, then previewed adman Donny Deutsch’s new sitcom (it didn’t fare as well), critiqued ABC Family’s name-change to Freeform, reviewed a new NBC sitcom and weighed in on Donald Trump. Read all five of this week’s MediaPost TV blogs, with these links:

Monday, Oct. 12: Extraordinary ‘Fargo’ Makes Case For Best Show Of The Year

Tuesday, Oct. 13: Adman Turns Sitcom Star: First Look At Deutsch’s New Show ‘Donny!’

Wednesday, Oct. 14: Anatomy Of A Name Change: ABC Family Goes ‘Freeform’

Thursday, Oct. 15: ‘Truth Be Told’: New NBC Sitcom Is The Bland Leading The Bland

Friday, Oct. 16: Trump On ‘SNL’: His Whole Life Is A Satire

— Adam Buckman

Contact Adam Buckman: adambuckman14@gmail.com

Please read my stories on the Xfinity TV Blog

October 21, 2013
Look for stories on these hot topics ion the Xfinity TV Blog -- just click on the links, below.

Look for stories on these hot topics on the Xfinity TV Blog, and much, more more  — just click on the links, below.

NEW YORK, Oct. 21, 2013 — Many thanks to all of you repeat visitors here at TVHowl.com. Most of my work can now be found here — on Comcast’s Xfinity TV Blog — which you are cordially invited to click on and read.

Recent stories and columns include:

Letterman Can’t Pin Down O’Reilly on Redskins Name Issue

More Than 8 Million Watch ‘Duck Dynasty’ Denizens Make Jerky

Kerry Washington To Host ‘SNL’ For The First Time Nov. 2

Monster Ratings for ‘Walking Dead’ Season Premiere

‘Breaking Bad’ Finale: A Lot of Blood, And Revenge Served Cold

Cote de Pablo’s Ziva Says Good-Bye to ‘NCIS’

NBC’s Costas Comes Out Against Redskins Team Name

HBO’s ‘Girls’ Returns Jan. 12, Along With Debut of ‘True Detective’

… and many, many more.

Adam Buckman

Contact Adam Buckman: adambuckman14@gmail.com

A few more from the Xfinity/Comcast archive

April 9, 2013
Clockwise from upper left: Late-night hosts react to the Leno-Fallon news, "Saturday Night Live" with Melissa McCarthy and Peter Dinklage, Kathy Griffin, Justin Bieber and a monkey (Photos: NBC, CBS, TBS, ABC, Getty, Bravo)

Clockwise from upper left: Late-night hosts react to the Leno-Fallon news, “Saturday Night Live” with Melissa McCarthy and Peter Dinklage, Kathy Griffin, Justin Bieber and a monkey (Photos: NBC, CBS, TBS, ABC, Getty, Bravo)

By ADAM BUCKMAN

NEW YORK, April 9, 2013 — TVHowl.com isn’t the only place you can read my take on the late-night wars — and just about every other TV topic under the sun too.

Don’t miss these recent stories, only on Xfinity.Comcast.net: Late-Night Shockwave: Hosts React to Leno-Fallon News; ‘SNL’ Recap: Peter Dinklage is ‘Uncle Drunklage’: Watch; Bravo Cancels Kathy Griffin’s Talk Show; and my personal favorite, Justin Bieber’s Monkey Evolves Into Hot Late-Night Topic — about all the jokes they made on the late-night shows about Bieber’s monkey being detained at a German airport.

Don’t miss ’em!

Contact Adam Buckman: adambuckman14@gmail.com

Best 2012 recap you’ll ever read: MY year in TV

December 24, 2012

By ADAM BUCKMAN

NEW YORK, Dec. 24, 2012 — Let other critics waste their time on year-end lists of the Top 10 this and the Top 10 that.

My long experience in this business tells me readers aren’t interested in any of that.  What they really want to know is: How was my year in TV?

My year amounted to just shy of 600 stories.

Dennis Farina and Dustin Hoffman in HBO's "Luck" (Photo: HBO)

Dennis Farina and Dustin Hoffman in HBO’s “Luck” (Photo: HBO)

My favorite: The story of the HBO horse-racing drama “Luck,” and how it was cancelled due to the deaths of three horses.  I’ve been covering the TV business as a journalist for the better part of 29 years, and this one was a first — a TV show ceasing production due to animals being injured so grievously that they had to be put down.  It was a shame — for the horses, certainly, and also for anyone who, like me, happened to like the show.  Alas.

Odd as that story was, another one was even odder, and also sad: The attempted suicide of character actor Daniel Von Bargen, who’s been in a lot of movies and TV shows but was best known for playing George Costanza’s boss, Mr. Kruger, in the final season of “Seinfeld.”  There have been no updates on his health since the incident last February, and I hope he’s doing better.

The TV phenomenon of the year was Honey Boo Boo.

Warwick Davis in "Life's Too Short" (Photo: HBO)

Warwick Davis in “Life’s Too Short” (Photo: HBO)

My favorite scripted show of the year was “Life’s Too Short,” the reality-style comedy series about a dwarf.  Produced for HBO by Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant, this show had dwarf actor Warwick Davis suffering humiliation and embarrassment everywhere he went.  It was just savage.

The year’s most memorable TV event was Nik Wallenda’s tightrope walk over Niagara Falls on a Friday night last June.  ABC aired it and everybody watched.

My favorite non-scripted show (though it may have been scripted just a little bit) was “American Colony: Meet the Hutterites,” seen last summer on National Geographic Channel.  Though the Hutterites are not Amish, they were part of the whole “Amish” trend this year in “reality” TV shows.  “Meet the Hutterites” was by far the best of them, though, and I won’t soon forget plucky Claudia, her brother Quentin, their mother Bertha and all the rest of them.

I watched a lot of late-night TV this year, recapped “Saturday Night Live” after practically every show and endured, along with everyone else, the presidential campaign.  The nightly dissection of the battle on the news channels every night was a tough slog.  By contrast, the four debates this past fall — three presidential and one vice presidential — were among the year’s TV highlights.

I also watched too many violent TV shows — “Boardwalk Empire,” “Sons of Anarchy,” Dexter” and heaven knows what else.  It’s all a bit much, isn’t it?  The real world is violent enough.

I would like to thank the following personalities for illuminating interviews: Ray Romano, Chuck Lorre, Jonathan and Drew Scott (the HGTV twins), Mark Feuerstein, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Danny McBride, and Willie Robertson of “Duck Dynasty” (great guy).  I loved encountering about two-thirds of the “Celebrity Apprentice” participants last winter at 30 Rock.  Shout-outs to Lisa Lampanelli, Dee Snider, Clay Aiken, Paul Teutel Sr. and Victoria Gotti for a great afternoon.

I met Aaron Sorkin for the first time this year too, and he was a great interview.  I also came face-to-face with Wilson Phillips and all three of them were a pleasure to talk to, though their reality series on TV Guide Channel was short-lived.

You get the opportunity to meet a great many interesting people in this business — and two of the most interesting personalities I ever encountered were among the TV personalities who died this year.  I loved meeting Sherman Hemsley back in ’96, and years before that, Dick Clark, who posed for a picture with me back in ’83 when I was very young and very green, and he treated me like I was the most important person in the world.  This was a guy who knew how to be a celebrity.

"The TV Guys," WOR, New York, summer 2002. Bert's the one seated and holding a pair of headphones up to his ear (Photo: personal collection)

“The TV Guys,” WOR, New York, summer 2002. Bert’s the one holding a pair of headphones up to his ear (Photo: personal collection)

We lost Bert Gould this year, my co-host on the radio show we threw together in the summer of 2002 on WOR in New York.

For 13 glorious weeks, we were “The TV Guys,” two self-styled experts on the TV business who talked about television, interviewed a couple of celebrities (Larry David and Michael Chiklis, most notably) and took viewer phone calls.

Short-lived as the show was, it was a highlight of my professional life and in no small way I have Bert to thank for it.

Without his brashness and enthusiasm, this idea for a radio show about television — an idea he concocted while we were talking randomly about TV on a bus to midtown one weekday morning — would have gone nowhere.  As it was, it went somewhere, if only for a short time.  Thanks, Bert.

As 2012 comes to a close, I ask myself the same question I ask every year at this time: A year from now, will I be doing this again?  Really?  Surely, there is something more to life than television …

Contact Adam Buckman: adambuckman14@gmail.com

Billy Crystal ‘blackface’ controversy is baloney

February 28, 2012

Billy Crystal (left) and Sammy Davis Jr.

By ADAM BUCKMAN

NEW YORK, Feb. 28, 2012 — Billy Crystal is being criticized for appearing in costume as Sammy Davis Jr. in the elaborate pre-produced bit that opened the Oscar telecast Sunday night on ABC.

What are the critics complaining about?  His face — specifically, the dark makeup Billy used to complete his impersonation of Sammy.

In the aftermath of the Oscars, the makeup is producing accusations that Billy was doing a racist, “blackface” impersonation of the late, legendary entertainer, who was African-American (and also Jewish).

The Hollywood Reporter has a rundown — here — of the “controversy” and the handful of critics whose Tweets appear to have ignited this mini-firestorm.

For example, a blog identified as “Feministing” declared, “Blackface is not okay, ever.”  And from this thin gruel are “controversies” made these days.

My own opinion is that this “firestorm” doesn’t hold water, but more on that in a moment.

First, the background: Billy turned up in costume as Sammy Davis in the portion of that opening bit that spoofed the Woody Allen movie “Midnight in Paris.”  “Sammy” appeared in a vintage limousine with Justin Bieber (the real one).

The choice was apparently made to include Billy’s “Sammy” character simply because it’s a character he was famous for doing on “Saturday Night Live” when he was a cast member in 1984-85.  Back then, as now, the characterization required dark makeup.  (It’s also worth noting that Billy impersonated Muhammad Ali and Prince on “SNL”; in fact, it was his impression of Ali that made him famous as a young comedian in the 1970s.)

In the wake of Sunday’s “Sammy” appearance on the Oscar show, these “critics” have dealt Billy the “blackface” card.  “Blackface” refers to a practice with roots in 19th-century forms of popular entertainment in which white stage performers blackened their faces with burnt cork or shoe polish to portray African-Americans in ways that often weren’t exactly flattering (and if that’s an understatement, then unlike the Twitterers, I admit right up front I’m not an expert on this subject, though there are plenty of places to learn about it in books and on the Internet).

The “blackface” practice probably reached its zenith when Al Jolson, considered by many to be one of the most electrifying entertainers who ever lived, donned the dark makeup in the early decades of the 20th century to sing songs such as “Mammy,” which certainly wouldn’t fly today.

Cut to the present day: And now, Billy Crystal is being accused of racist “blackfacing” as if he’s been caught barnstorming the country in a minstrel show.

I happen to think this mini-controversy is baloney for several reasons.  For one thing, Billy Crystal has never demonstrated any sort of bias against African-Americans or anyone else, as far I can recall.  In addition, when it comes to Sammy Davis Jr. in particular, he seems to have adored the man — as I learned earlier this month when Billy talked at length about Sammy on Showtime’s “Inside Comedy,” the show on which David Steinberg interviews top comedians about their craft.

Billy told an incredibly affectionate story about Sammy from the days when Billy opened for Sammy in Lake Tahoe (and probably other places).  You could tell that Billy had nothing but love and respect for Sammy.  Certainly, how Sammy felt about Billy’s impersonation of him on “SNL” remains an open question (one biography of Sammy that I own – “In Black and White: The Life of Sammy Davis Jr.” by Wil Haygood – doesn’t report on Sammy’s reaction but speculates that he may have felt forced to accept it because of his own history of doing impersonations; Davis died in 1990).

The last thing I’ll say about this is: I think the people criticizing Billy for “blackfacing” are being awfully selective here.  I’m pretty sure Fred Armisen has to tint his face a bit to play Barack Obama on “SNL” (and, in a recent sketch, Prince), but we haven’t seen any “blackface” accusations thrown his way.

In addition, Robert Downey Jr. was criticized by some for applying dark-face makeup for the 2008 movie “Tropic Thunder.”  But that “controversy” died down and was soon forgotten.

My prediction: The same thing will happen with this Crystal controversy too.

Contact Adam Buckman: adambuckman14@gmail.com

Gathering of late-night TV scribes wows audience

March 31, 2010

FUNNY BUSINESS: Five late-night comedy writers came together Tuesday night (March 30) in New York for a panel discussion on the art of comedy writing for television. The writers (front row, l-r): Erik Kenward, “Saturday Night Live”; Bashir Salahuddin, “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon”; Jason Ross, “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart”; J.R. Havlan, “The Daily Show”; and Diallo Riddle, “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.” Back row (l-r): Alaina Bendi, Center for Communication; Adam Buckman, moderator, TVHowl.com; and Dr. William Baker, Fordham University. Photo: Center for Communication

By ADAM BUCKMAN

NEW YORK, March 31, 2010 — Many thanks to our panel of five late-night comedy writers who all  participated in a live panel discussion before an audience of several hundred college students and others Tuesday night (March 30) in Manhattan.

The event, sponsored jointly by the Center for Communication and Fordham University and held at Fordham’s Pope Auditorium on West 60th Street, brought together representatives of three New York-based late-night shows: “Saturday Night Live” (writer: Erik Kenward), “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon”(writers: Bashir Salahuddin and Diallo Riddle) and “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” (writers: Jason Ross and J.R. Havlan).  The moderator was yours truly, Adam Buckman.

Among other things, the audience learned, from Erik Kenward, that “SNL” writers observe the results of their sketch-writing work in the company of the show’s uber-boss Lorne Michaels during the show’s traditional dress rehearsal, the dry run just before the live broadcast when the evening’s sketches are audience-tested.  It’s during that dry run that Michaels will sometimes yank a sketch altogether or order changes.

All the panelists urged audience members to start working on their comedy writing if they ever hope to break into the big time and become staff writers on some of TV’s biggest shows.  The panelists advised prospective comedy scribes to produce visual content for the Web as a way of practicing this comedy art form and also as a way of assembling a body of work to show prospective employers.

Contact Adam Buckman: AdamBuckman14@gmail.com


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